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Invitation Only Murder by Leslie Meier Read Online (FREE)

Invitation Only Murder by Leslie Meier Read Online

Read Invitation Only Murder by Leslie Meier online free here

Chapter One

The little bell on the door to the Pennysaver newspaper office in the quaint coastal town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, jangled and Lucy Stone looked up from the story she was writing about the new recycling regulations—paper, glass, and plastic would not be accepted unless clean and separate, no more single stream—to see who had come in, and smiled broadly. It was her oldest and best friend, Sue Finch, looking every bit as stylish and put-together as usual with her dark hair cut in a neat bob and dressed in her usual summer uniform: striped French fisherman’s jersey, black Bermudas, espadrilles, and straw sun hat. Skipping a greeting, Sue pulled an envelope from her straw carryall with a perfectly manicured hand and declared, “Guess what came in today’s mail? It’s an invitation to die for!”

Lucy, who was used to playing second fiddle to Sue, raised an inquisitive eyebrow. She was also dressed in her usual summer uniform: a freebie T-shirt from the lumberyard, a pair of cutoff jeans, and neon orange running shoes. She hadn’t bothered to style her hair this sunny June morning, thinking that it looked fine, and had missed a stubborn lock in back that curled up like a drake’s tail feather. “Do tell,” she said, leaning back in her desk chair.

“Just look at the paper,” cooed Sue, pulling a square of sturdy card out of the velvet-smooth lined envelope. “Handmade. And the lettering is hand-pressed. And, oh, the address on the envelope was done by a calligrapher,” she continued, handing the envelope to Lucy. “Trust me, something like this doesn’t come cheap.”

“Is it a wedding invitation?” asked Lucy, admiring the elaborate, swirling script on the front of the envelope. Turning the envelope over and studying the back, she recognized the formally identified senders: Mr. and Mrs. Scott Newman. Everybody in town had heard of the Newmans, who had recently bought an island off the coast and proceeded to hire every contractor in the county to restore the property’s long-abandoned buildings, including spending a fortune to save the magnificent barn that was considered an architectural masterpiece.

“No, it’s for a ‘night to remember,’ that’s what they’re calling it,” replied Sue, handing Lucy the invitation. “It’s to celebrate the Newman family’s donation of the island to the Coastal Maine Land Trust and to thank all the people who worked on the restoration.”

“I bet we’re invited, too, then,” said Lucy, whose husband, Bill, a restoration carpenter, had been the lead contractor for the project. “The invitation’s probably in the mailbox at home.”

“It’s going to be fabulous, if this invitation is any indication,” said Sue. “No expense spared and believe me, the Newmans have plenty of expense to spare.”

Lucy knew all about Scott Newman; she’d written a profile of the billionaire venture capitalist when rumors started floating that he was interested in acquiring Fletcher’s Island for his family’s summer vacations. When she interviewed him, she’d been somewhat surprised to learn that he was a keen preservationist who was interested in keeping the island completely off the grid and was refusing to install modern innovations, allowing only the original nineteenth-century technology. He planned to collect rainwater in a cistern, use a primitive electric generation system, and cook on an enormous woodstove, all of which were considered wonderfully advanced when the island was developed by lumber tycoon Edward T. Fletcher. When Lucy asked if this wasn’t rather impractical, Newman had replied that it was modern life that was impractical, citing scientific studies linking climate change to human activity. “The old ways were much kinder to the environment, and face it, we’ve only got one planet, there’s no planet B,” he declared. “We’ve got to take care of Earth, or we’re all doomed.”